Re-Makin' Whoopi: Revising Characters and Scenes After 20 Years, Goldberg Opens on Bway Nov. 17

News   Re-Makin' Whoopi: Revising Characters and Scenes After 20 Years, Goldberg Opens on Bway Nov. 17 Can it really be 20 years since the name Whoopi Goldberg first went widely public with her one-woman Broadway show, Whoopi Goldberg?
Whoopi Goldberg as
Whoopi Goldberg as "Fontaine" in Whoopi Photo by Joan Marcus

The singular actress-comedian-celebrity seems to have always been with us, flashing a keyboard smile, pulling at her dreadlocks and saying it like it is, whether in concerts, benefits, TV ads, "Hollywood Squares," children's books, her own (now-cancelled) sitcom, movies such as "Ghost," "Sister Act" and "The Color Purple" or on Broadway — where she opens Nov. 17 at the Lyceum in Whoopi, a revised and updated version of the Mike Nichols-produced-and-directed solo act that first helped make her famous.

A whole lot has happened in the life and times of Goldberg since her first Playbill bio was penned. Whereas Mike Nichols had the credit of "production supervisor" in 1984, he's listed simply as the lead producer for the new show (also at the Lyceum).

The new production is subtitled The 20th Anniversary Show. Arthur Siccardi is production supervisor now.

The 12-week limited engagement of Goldberg playing a variety of characters and exploring political, social and personal territory began Nov. 6 at the ornate, historic Lyceum and continues to Jan. 20, 2005.

"With the addition of two new characters, plus updated material from characters first introduced 20 years ago, Whoopi is the continuation of the eponymous Broadway show that launched Goldberg's extraordinary career in October 1984," according to production notes. In the original, Goldberg played a handful of characters, including a Valley Girl and a pan handler.

Presented by Mike Nichols, Hal Luftig, Leonard Soloway, Steven M. Levy, Tom Leonardis, Eric Falkenstein and Amy Nederlander, Whoopi also promises $25 student rush seats at every performance in addition to the $45-$75 seats.

Whoopi features lighting design by Benjamin Pearcy and sound design by Peter Fitzgerald. Prior to Broadway, Whoopi played a one-week engagement at Philadelphia’s Merriam Theatre in October 2004.

The recording of her 1984 Broadway debut earned her a Grammy Award. Her prizes over the years have also included an Academy Award ("Ghost" – 1991), two Golden Globes ("The Color Purple" – 1985, "Ghost" – 1991), an Emmy Award ("Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel" – 2002) and a Tony Award (she was one of the producers of Thoroughly Modern Millie – 2002).

Since her solo debut, Goldberg has returned to Broadway in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Her modest original bio in the 1984 Playbill for Whoopi Goldberg read: "A native of Manhattan's Chelsea district, Ms. Goldberg makes her Broadway debut with this production. Her career on stage began at age eight with New York's Hudson Guild Theatre. As a stage actress, Ms. Goldberg's credits include Pippin, Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair. She is a founding member of the San Diego Repertory Theatre where she appeared as Mother Courage and in Marsha Norman's Getting Out. While living in Southern California, Ms. Goldberg began performing with the improvisational company Spontaneous Combustion. Three years ago she was invited to join Berkeley's Blake Street Hawkeyes, one of the Bay Area's oldest avant garde theatre companies. She moved to the Bay Area, where she quickly emerged as a character actress and comedienne of note, developing a strong following and a repertoire of characters. Her one-woman Spook Show originated at the Hawkeyes' studio and has played before standing room audiences across the U.S. and abroad. Recently, she starred in Moms in San Francisco, performing the material of the late black comedienne Moms Mabley."

Tickets for Whoopi are available by calling Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200, or in-person at the Lyceum Theatre box office, 149 W. 45th Street. $25 student rush tickets (first two rows of the orchestra) are available at the box office on the day of the performance. There is a limit of two rush tickets per valid student I.D.

Performances play Wednesday through Friday evenings at 8 PM, Saturdays at 7 PM and 10 PM, Sundays at 3 PM and 7 PM. The show is intermissionless.

There will be no performances on Nov. 25, Dec. 24, Dec. 25, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, 2005.

There are added performances on (Tuesday) Nov. 23 at 8 PM, (Monday) Dec. 20 at 8 PM, (Tuesday) Dec. 21 at 8 PM, (Monday) Dec. 27 at 8 PM, (Tuesday) Dec. 28 at 8 PM, plus Dec. 29 at 2 PM and Dec. 30 at 2 PM.

From Top: Whoopi Goldberg as "Lurleen" in <i>Whoopi</i> and in a photograph from the Playbill for the original 1984 run of <i>Whoopi</i>
From Top: Whoopi Goldberg as "Lurleen" in Whoopi and in a photograph from the Playbill for the original 1984 run of Whoopi Photo by Joan Marcus